Inside Out Network Connects Returning Citizens with Essential Resources
After serving in prison and re-entry ministry for more than 10 years, leaders from Redeemer Lutheran Church (Park Ridge, Ill.) decided to address what they saw as the primary struggles of returning citizens: isolation and invisibility.
Redeemer leaders firmly believe that most men and women released into the community are eager to do well, stay sober, do productive work, and enjoy healthy relationships. But according to Bureau of Justice and Illinois Department of Corrections studies, most returnees lack a supportive network upon their release.
That’s why Redeemer created Inside Out Network (ION), a powerful interactive website connecting returning citizens with service providers, service providers with each other, and inmates/returning citizens to specialized small group Bible studies. ION went live in August 2017; in January 2018, We Raise Foundation awarded a $50,000 GrantsPlus grant. Funds are supporting Redeemer in expanding the provider network, recruiting inmates to enroll in ION, and identifying church leaders with a heart for returning citizens.
“One of the reasons that their proposal was so compelling was that it proposed an innovative yet simple tool to combat the long-entrenched problem of isolation, which leads to recidivism,” notes Joanne Otte, Director of Programs for We Raise. “The Inside Out Network strives to provide a platform where connections can be built and sustained.”
The vision for ION can be illustrated by the story of “Joe.” While incarcerated, Joe experiences a turnaround, gets enrolled in ION, and creates his personal profile. Upon his release, Joe’s profile goes live and is sent to ION partners—service providers, employment reentry specialists, church leaders—who reach out to Joe proactively. During the early, critical days of Joe’s release, these real connections support his reintegration into the community.
Your financial support helps returning citizens make essential connections for a successful return to their community. Thank you.